CardioSpecialists Group, Ltd.
About Valvular Heart Disease
Also called: Rheumatic Valve Disease, Heart Valve Disease, Valve Disease
What Is Valvular Heart Disease?
The valves of the heart operate like flood gates allowing blood into and out of the four chambers of the heart at the proper times. When something causes these valves to malfunction, it is called valvular heart disease. Forms of the disease include:
-Valvular stenosis: This occurs if one or more of the valves
becomes blocked, thickened, narrowed or stiff, preventing it
from operating properly.
-Atresia: Occurs from a birth defect, and it is when one of the valves is closed shut and does not open.
-Valvular regurgitation: This happens when one or more of the valves does not close properly and blood leaks back into the chamber from which it left.
-Mitral valve prolapse: The two halves of the mitral valve might have a hinge that is too long or one or both of the flaps is too large. This results in the mitral valve not closing as it should and blood flows backward into the left atrium.
What Causes Valvular Heart Disease?
Valvular heart disease could be the result of an abnormality present at birth, but it could also result from an infection or have no known cause.
What Are the Symptoms?
Depending upon how quickly you develop valvular heart disease, you might not have any symptoms, but if the disease progresses suddenly, you could feel severe chest pain, swelling in the ankles, fatigue, dizziness, palpitations, rapid weight gain, or weakness. If you have any of these, you should talk to your doctor.
How Is Valvular Heart Disease Diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects valvular heart disease, he will listen to your heart for a murmur. An electrocardiogram (EKG) and echocardiogram might be given. The EKG can reveal problems with the heart beat, and the echocardiogram uses sound waves to create an image of the heart. For a 3-D image of the heart, an MRI might also be administered.
How Is Valvular Heart Disease Treated?
If the extent of your valvular heart disease is minor, you might not need any treatment. For more serious cases, you might be prescribed medications to help regulate your heart beat. These could be ACE inhibitors, inotropes, antiarrhythmics, antibiotics, anticoagulants, or diuretics. Surgery to repair your faulty heart valve might also be recommended. Possible procedures include: percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty to treat valvular stenosis; valvulotomy repairs a valve through open heart surgery; minimally invasive repair surgery; or heart valve replacement.